I served in Vietnam as a helicopter machine gunner and a proud member of HMM-262 (66/67). I received a purple heart for my efforts. When I returned from Vietnam, I had the feeling that as an air wing Marine, I hadn’t done as much as the grunts who walked through the jungles, slept in the rain, etc. I finally worked with a grunt who was in Vietnam at the same time I was there. We became good friends and I confided in him one day that I somehow felt like I should have done more because I didn’t have the combat experiences he had. He looked at me for a minute and then told me that he’d always felt the same way about me. He said that he felt lucky being on the ground and that his heroes were the guys who flew in the helicopters to bring in supplies, reinforcements or to carry wounded Marines out during firefights. He said he’d never be able to do my job. He’d been my “real Marine” and I’d been his.
The bottom line is this. We are all United States Marines. We go where we are sent and we do whatever it is we need to do for Corps and Country. We are all trained to be Marines. Rather than worry that you didn’t do “your part,” be content that had you been sent, you would have served your Corps well.
I’ve tried to get back in so I could go to Afghanistan or Iraq but, at the age of 63, the recruiters tell me that I am too old. My son, L/Cpl. Jamie L. Nix, is now on Okinawa and I guess he’ll have to carry on in my place. Semper Fi!
Daniel L. Nix
Sgt. of Marines
1964 – 1967